AG TIRE TALK KEY TAKEAWAYS
“…it’s only a matter of time before tire sensors and/or RFID tags are used in agriculture.”
“…the main reason we need them (sensors), especially on high horsepower tractors, is that monitoring air pressures in each tire is key to adding an onboard inflation system.”
“There are three types of evolving technologies that can help the ag industry continue to improve and enhance their tire performance results: RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Technology, Tire Sensor Technology, and On-Board Tire Inflation Systems.”
“tire sensors…could be a huge benefit to the end user…measure the dynamic weight changes and precisely adjust air pressures, which would benefit tractive capacities, flotation, and fuel economy in the field…”
“Why raise tire pressure for the road? Higher tire pressure for roading gives +20% longer tread life, better handling and 5 – 10% improved fuel economy at speeds up to 40 mph.”
“For farmers and dealers, tire monitoring systems with external, valve stem mounted sensors provide a simple and affordable option of retrofitting on older machines, and for field replacement/repair-ability, without additional costly down time.”
Will Tire Sensors & RFID Tags grow in popularity on AG Tires, what benefits will the farmer/operator receive, and how should Tire Dealers prepare for these next generation product offerings?
BKT USA, Inc.
Dave Paulk: Manager Field Technical Services
With tire pressure inflation systems being considered by tractor and equipment manufacturers, it’s only a matter of time before tire sensors and/or RFID tags are used in agriculture. Tire sensor technology has been used on over the road trucks, trailers, and cars and pickups, and RFID tags have been used on OTR tires and over the road trucks/trailers for some time now.
Ag tractors are being used more on the highways in many different applications that require higher speeds. Many are larger with higher horsepower, pulling heavier equipment, and running faster. Both of these systems can work to prevent damage to tires and wheels.
Tire sensors can be built into the tire or added to the inside of the tire after market. Running air pressures too low for the load and high heat are killers of tires. Low air pressures can cause excessive heat buildup in the tire and destroy the tire casing. Sensors are programmed to a minimum air pressure and/or high heat setting and generally are good for alerting the operator to changes in either. This information is sent to a console in the vehicle to warn the driver. The result of not taking preventative action can lead to downtime and the cost of a new tire.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags work much the same way but can generally deliver more information to a receiver outside of the vehicle. As the name indicates, RFID uses a radio frequency to communicate with a receiver to gather information about the tire. There are two types of RFID tags: active and passive. Active RFID tags have a battery and passive do not. Most RFID tags are embedded in the tire. Data can be collected and analyzed for a fleet of vehicles. This can be used to gather information on air pressure, temperature of the tire, and location of the tire. If air pressure drops or the tire begins heating up, an alert can be sent out to warn of an impending failure. These alerts can go to a receiver in the vehicle, remote receiver and/or a cell phone. As more people and businesses move to IoT (Internet of Things) to manage assets, more RFID tags will be used.
Sensors have also been introduced to tracks to alert the driver to high temperatures when on the road. According to how the system is set up, the signal from the sensor can cause the tractor to adjust its speed to allow the track to cool down. The system can also be set up to issue warnings to the driver so they can act accordingly. Since tracks and solid tires do not dissipate heat as well as pneumatic tires, sensors would be an essential tool to minimize failures.
Most tire dealers have had to deal with sensors on cars and pickups for several years now and have the equipment to reset sensors with the vehicle. Since many dealers have some experience dealing with sensors, it shouldn’t be too difficult, but with new technology, there will always be a learning curve.
Overall, tire sensors and RFID tags are designed to give information that can help with preventative maintenance costs and provide benefits that can help the farmer save money on fuel, time/downtime, and tire costs.
GRI Global Rubber Industries
Jim Enyart, Region Sales Manager – Field Engineer
Do we really need TMPS (Tire pressure monitoring systems) systems on tractors? We have done just fine without them for many years. The answer is likely yes and no!
With a TPMS system the operators can see if they have an air pressure drop in any single tire just like in your car or pickup. That’s all good but the main reason we need them, especially on high horsepower tractors, is that monitoring air pressures in each tire is key to adding an onboard inflation system.
The TPMS in addition to the onboard tire inflation system enables the tractor operators to adjust tire inflation pressures from the cab. The main reason we should embrace on board inflation systems is because of the variability in inflation pressures that are required for radial tires to operate at or near peak performance levels during roading at high speeds and in field operations at significantly slower speeds.
The most important tractor on the farm is the real “work horse” that does the heavy field work. With farms growing in size as well as distance between fields, “roading” between fields has become more and more common. Inflation pressure should be set for the most demanding application unless you can set it for each application! Tractors that are “roaded” at high speeds between fields is the most demanding application and requires higher inflation pressures. Unfortunately, when you get to the field and begin your field operations, you are running at considerably slower speeds and your tires are inflated above the ideal pressure for that operation.
Radial tires provide lots of advantages but to get the most out of those advantages you need to have the inflation pressure adjusted for that specific application. The correct inflation provides for a longer footprint due to increased sidewall deflection and as a result you minimize compaction while increasing traction. Increased traction increases efficiency and reduces time and fuel inputs. The onboard inflation systems provide the ability to change inflation pressures when you change operations.
Of course anyone could change the inflation pressures with a service truck equipped with an air compressor but did anyone ever do that? I would doubt it because of the time and logistics of having all the equipment and time to make these adjustments. On board inflation systems make inflation adjustments a reality but the operator still has to take the time and have the knowledge about what inflation pressure is required for each operation. Onboard tire inflation systems for tractors have been available on several brands of tractors manufactured in Europe for several years. Providing a tractor operator the ability to change inflation pressures quickly and accurately has been needed since radial tires were first mounted on tractors!
My advice is to look for an after market inflation system that could be mounted on any workhorse tractor. When you are looking to buy a new tractor, look into onboard inflation systems , their availability and cost so you can get the most out of your high tech radial tires. Properly adjusting inflation pressures will increase efficiency, reduce compaction as well as increase yield potential.
Maxam Tire International
Greg W. Gilland: Business Development & Ag Segment Manager
The key to achieving the best value and performance of a tire is to employ the ideal air pressure based on the actual load.
In the agricultural world, there is an indisputable link between the impact of ground pressure and the resulting yield of a planted crop. Tires play a key role in soil compaction and ground pressure as it is the primary tool that creates the ground contact between the machinery and the soil. Due to limited resources, most farmers or growers will set their tire inflation pressures based on the heaviest implement (or axle load) they are required to tow or carry and subsequently it never gets adjusted for other working conditions. The compressed air within a tire accounts for over 80% of the carrying capacity of the tire, therefore, any technology or tool that improves the impact on ground pressure and overall tire functionality will inevitably result in increased crop yields, delivering a greater value to farmers and growers.
There are three types of evolving technologies that can help the ag industry continue to improve and enhance their tire performance results:
- RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Technology
- Tire Sensor Technology
- On-Board Tire Inflation Systems
RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). In essence, it is a chip or tag that is embedded inside of a machinery component, or a tire that allows an exchange of data with a portable or fixed reader which employs a radio frequency (RF) signal to passively read the information on the tag or chip. The benefit of this technology in the ag world is the technical information that could be embedded in the selected tire’s RFID tag. This tag would identify the tire brand, size, original tread depth, type, wheel position, and maximum load limits. From a tire performance and tracking point of view, it would instantly identify all the tire information needed to determine the working parameters for active tire management over time.
Tire Sensor Technology moves us another step towards enhancing the performance of tires. A tire sensor is either passive (responds when queried) or active (constantly sending a signal), placed inside the tire preferably on or adjacent to the inner liner. It can also be mounted on the valve stem of the rim or wheel that can actively communicate not only the data provided by an RFID tag but also the actual air pressure and temperature of the tire. As there is a direct link between the machine axle load, the required air pressure to carry the load, and the corresponding temperature caused by the work in progress the data or tire pressure information can trigger a management decision by the operator. The air inflation pressure feedback provides management options that could include speeding up, slowing down, stopping the machinery, or conducting a maintenance routine to adjust the air pressures. The sensor technology gives the ability to use the air pressure data to ensure the optimal inflation for the tire load, thus increasing tire life, reducing the ground pressure, and achieving the benefits of greater crop yields.
The growing use of on-board tire inflation systems moves the above technology to the next level by incorporating both the passive RFID tag technology and the active tire sensor technology feedback into a tire pressure adjustment mechanism that is an integral part of the ag machinery. The onboard systems would include an air pressure system supplied by the machinery that is connected to the tires with the capability to inflate or deflate the tires as needed based on the operators’ working requirements or load needs. The on-board tire inflation systems receive the data from the RFID or sensor tag, located by wheel position on the machinery, and in real-time gives the operator the capability to adjust the tire inflation pressure on the go or as needed without having to stop the machinery. Whether working in the field at slow speeds or transporting the machinery (roading) from field to field at higher speeds, the ability to adjust the tire air pressures as needed can ensure the following benefits:
- Reduced ground compaction as tire load is based on the actual load per axle or per tire as needed.
- Greater crop yields as the compaction impact on the soil is minimized by the improved tire footprint.
- Improved tire wear and reduced sidewall deflection giving the optimum tire gross flat plate or footprint.
- Improved fuel efficiency as the tire is optimized for each work application or towed implement.
- Greater productivity in the field as the tire’s footprint and traction provide increased efficiency.
In summary, each of the above technologies provides a tangible benefit that can deliver improved results to any farmer or grower. MAXAM Tire recommends using all the above technology if the usage parameters are aligned with the selected machinery’s tires specifications, axle loads, load-per tire, and soil conditions. Our recommendation is that the farmer or grower select the above tool that best suits his needs or working conditions in order to achieve his business objectives.
Tire dealers and distributors will have to adapt to the technological solutions selected by each tire manufacturer. Some tire manufacturers will develop in-house tools, and perhaps all the above technologies as part of their brand offer. Some tire manufacturers may adopt off-the-shelf solutions available and offer them as part of an integrated package that supports their product offer. In addition, some of the OEM’s are evaluating on-board tire inflation systems as part of their optional machinery package enhancements in their equipment offer as they recognize the value and impact of tires on the total cost of ownership of their vehicles. In each case, tire dealers and distributors will need to understand how these tools will integrate with the tire offer and be ready to provide some technical support for proper system implementation or use. Ultimately, the burden will fall on the tire manufacturers to clarify what, why, and how the tools or technology selected as part of their brand approach to their respective dealers and/or distributors.
David Graden: Operational Market Manager – Agriculture
As producers become more and more educated on the benefits of proper inflation pressures, soil preservation and an increased awareness of their overall efficiency, we will see a growing need for tire sensors & RFID tags in and on Ag tires.
For Ag tire dealers, RFID tags could be very useful in inventory management and tracking. As for producers, this technology could easily be used to track machinery, speeds and maintenance schedules. On the other hand, tire sensors like pressure monitoring sensors, distance measuring devices (inside the tire), etc., could be a huge benefit to the end user. Technology such as this could measure the dynamic weight changes and precisely adjust air pressures, which would benefit tractive capacities, flotation, fuel economy in the field and overall machine efficiency. Furthermore, if this technology is tied to the machine speed, air pressures could adjust up and significantly improve fuel economy and stability on the road too.
As these technologies hit the market, tire dealers need to be knowledgeable enough to maintain, install and troubleshoot them all. I fully expect producers to rely heavily on these technologies and look to their tire dealers for advice. Today, we understand tire dealers are the first stop for tire recommendations, with tire manufacturers and online research being second. The technology is coming fast, and we all need to be educated and prepared to move forward quickly.
Precision Inflation, LLC
Ken Brodbeck, VP of Technology
Will tire sensors and RFID tags grow in the future?
Because farmers want to preserve and improve soil health while maximizing profitability and yield.
By running the lowest allowable tire pressure in the field and the highest reasonable pressure for transport.
Why lower tire pressure for the field?
- High tire pressure causes soil compaction, soil erosion, loss of yield, rough ride, poor fuel economy and excessive wheel slip.
- Adjusting the tire to proper lower field pressure fixes the above issues.
Why raise tire pressure for the road?
- Low field pressure causes faster tread wear during transport, especially on IF and VF tires due to “tread squirm”, and a hotter running tire.
- Higher tire pressure for roading gives +20% longer tread life, better handling and 5 – 10% improved fuel economy at speeds up to 40 mph.
- Rubber tracks become HOT at transport speeds and especially with heavy hitch loads.
- Raising tire pressure for transport fixes the above issues!
- Do you know how much air pressure is in your planting tractor tires?
- How much does each axle weigh in transport and in the field?
- Do you know the tire’s optimum, minimum and maximum pressure?
- Is the tire standard, IF, VF, CFO, CHO, bias, radial, belted, speed rated?
The RFID tag can solve question #4 by providing the tire manufacturer’s load and inflation data from a chip molded into the tire.
A tire load sensor can use the RFID tag to tell a CTIS computer to inflate or deflate each tire as the load and speed of the tire change, WITHOUT OPERATOR INPUT.
This tire load sensor will also measure how much horsepower is going into each tire.
Tire and Tractor drive train engineers TAKE NOTE!!
No more looking up tire paper load/inflation tables or website pressure calculators. The tractor, combine, sprayer or planter will AUTOMATICALLY adjust the tire pressure for both VERTICAL LOAD and SPEED to provide the optimum tire pressure, even as load changes.
Yokohama Off-Highway Tires America, Inc.
Blaine Cox, National Product Manager—Agriculture, Golf and Turf:
When it comes to how an operator can influence tire performance and tire life, nothing even comes close to inflation pressure. Tire sensors and RFID signaling technology seem to be ramping up—first in cars and trucks, and more recently in farm equipment. They’re powerful tools because they make it easy to keep track of inflation pressure, and just as important, to spot a problem before it turns into a crisis. And those technologies are a perfect fit for central tire inflation systems (CTIS), which can automate the entire process of optimizing inflation pressure on the go.
Honestly, many VF and IF tires are not really being used to their greatest advantage. Farmers buy them because they’re OE on the tractors or combines they’re purchasing, then run them just like any other radials. My hope is that the presence of tire pressure monitoring technology will encourage those farmers to pay attention to the extra load they can carry at normal radial inflation pressures, or to the chance to reduce inflation pressure to limit soil compaction.
The whole industry is learning about the potential of pressure sensor and RFID technology—and CTIS. I think they show a lot of promise, and I’m excited to see farmers use any technology that helps them operate more efficiently and protect their yield potential.
Agricultural equipment utilizes some of the most advanced technology to help producers maximize yields. Seed placement, joystick controls, threshing, separation, cleaning systems, and even autonomous operation are optimizing performance for farmers today. In addition, tire pressure/temperature sensors are included in this growing list of popular technology that helps farmers to increase yield and improve efficiency.
Lee Demis, Vice President of Business Development
It is well documented that optimal tire inflation pressures are necessary to reduce ground contact pressure, which causes soil compaction. Ag tires operate at much lower pressures (typically 8 to 35psi) than a typical tractor/trailer tire (100psi). These lower pressures are critical to widen and elongate the tire footprint that creates a larger surface area to effectively distribute the load and minimize compaction. As larger, heavier machines are developed, the tires – and the air pressures inside of them – have become even more critical to inflate to proper levels. Utilizing tire pressure/temperature sensors allows farmers to set and monitor accurate tire inflation pressures, with real-time alert notifications when low pressure or high temperature critical events occur.
Tire pressure and temperature sensors are now contributing critical and actionable data to highly advanced farm machinery and we expect the implementation trend to continue. For farmers and dealers, tire monitoring systems with external, valve stem mounted sensors provide a simple and affordable option of retrofitting on older machines, and for field replacement/repair-ability, without additional costly down time.
Ultimately, maintaining proper inflation pressure improves equipment uptime and productivity and maximizes tire life, which are vitally important to control costs when equipment, spare parts, and replacement tires are in short supply.
All information is provided in this blog solely to provoke thought. All deductions made from information on this site must be confirmed by Certified Ag Tire Dealer and tire manufacturer where specified before use. Ag Tire Talk does not recommend anyone conduct tire service work with exception of Certified Ag Tire Dealer Professionals.